Worries Persist After Release of Iran Nuclear-Pact Terms

Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 17, 2014, 7:21 a.m.

U.S. law­maker con­cerns per­sisted about talks with Ir­an fol­low­ing Thursday’s cir­cu­la­tion of de­tails about the new in­ter­im deal, the Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion sum­mar­ized pub­licly the tech­nic­al un­der­stand­ing reached this week with Ir­an, and provided to U.S. law­makers what the Journ­al de­scribed as the full 30-page text. While the im­ple­ment­a­tion road map is un­clas­si­fied, U.S. of­fi­cials said its text could be re­viewed only by mem­bers of Con­gress and their top aides with se­cur­ity clear­ances.

Con­gres­sion­al in­siders said the elab­or­a­tion about this week’s tech­nic­al un­der­stand­ing prob­ably would not go far in quelling con­tro­versy over a Sen­ate sanc­tions push that the White House warns could thwart dip­lomacy over Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. The Middle East­ern na­tion on Sunday fi­nal­ized plans with six oth­er coun­tries for en­for­cing a half-year nuc­le­ar ac­cord reached in Novem­ber.

A num­ber of le­gis­lat­ive aides said the more de­tailed ma­ter­i­als sent to Con­gress do not fully ex­plain how out­side powers could find Ir­an to be in breach of the Novem­ber pact. Last year’s deal, which is sched­uled to take ef­fect on Monday, im­poses a num­ber of re­stric­tions on Tehran’s nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies and provides it with lim­ited re­lief from pun­it­ive eco­nom­ic meas­ures.

“The most dis­con­cert­ing thing is how vague it is — there is no clear com­pli­ance mech­an­ism in place,” the Wall Street Journ­al quoted an un­named Sen­ate aide as said.

Law­makers also have raised a re­lated con­cern that Ir­an could gain un­due au­thor­ity to judge its own com­pli­ance with the ac­cord through its role in a planned “joint com­mis­sion.”

The Los Angeles Times in a Thursday re­port de­scribed the secret tech­nic­al agree­ment provided to Cap­it­ol Hill as be­ing just nine pages long, in con­trast to the 30 pages of text de­scribed by the Wall Street Journ­al.

One high-level Sen­ate staffer told the Times that le­gis­lat­ors al­most cer­tainly would want more de­tails than just re­ceived.

“It’s nine pages long — what on earth?” the in­sider said.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear how to square the dif­fer­ences in the two news­pa­pers’ de­scrip­tions.

An Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mat this week said the sides had ne­go­ti­ated a 30-page ad­dendum to the en­force­ment plan. Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, though, have re­jec­ted con­ten­tions that there are un­dis­closed un­der­stand­ings.

Mean­while, some mem­bers of Con­gress said they were more wor­ried after re­ceiv­ing spe­cif­ics about the deal on Thursday from U.S. Un­der Sec­ret­ary of State Wendy Sher­man, Wash­ing­ton’s seni­or del­eg­ate in the nuc­le­ar dis­cus­sions, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

“I’m more dis­turbed more than ever after the brief­ing,” said Sen­at­or Lind­sey Gra­ham (R-S.C.), one back­er of an Ir­an-sanc­tions bill un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in the up­per cham­ber.

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